Conflict displaced thousands of people and resulted in hundreds of civilian casualties in early 2021.
Drought conditions,ongoing conflict, and impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic are driving heightened levels of acute food insecurity among millions of people.
Poor adherence to COVID-19 mitigation protocols and vaccine misconceptions among the public challenge efforts to slow the spread of the disease.
The USG announces more than $266 million in additional funding for humanitarian assistance in Afghanistan.
Conflict Results in Casualties, Displaces Thousands of People in Early 2021
Security conditions have continued to deteriorate in Afghanistan in 2021, with armed clashes, improvised explosive device (IED) detonations, and targeted killings resulting in civilian casualties, displacing populations, and disrupting humanitarian operations. From January 1 to June 6, conflict displaced nearly 140,700 people across Afghanistan, with notable increases in conflict and related displacement in May in Baghlan, Helmand, and Laghman provinces, according to the UN. Additionally, the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) recorded 573 civilian deaths and 1,210 civilian injuries in Afghanistan between January and March, primarily due to ground clashes, IED detonations, and targeted killings. The UNAMA data represents a 29 percent increase in civilian casualties in the first quarter of 2021 compared to the last quarter of 2020, including significant increases in casualties among women and children, as well as a 117 percent increase in the number of casualties caused by indiscriminate use of IEDs. Escalated violence in 2021 continues a trend following the commencement of the Government of Afghanistan–Taliban peace talks in Doha, Qatar, in September 2020; total civilian casualties across the country from September 2020 to February 2021 were 38 percent higher than the total recorded during the same six-month period in 2019–2020.
Active clashes, presence of IEDs, and general insecurity, as well as interferences by parties to the conflict, also continue to create a difficult operating environment for relief agencies in Afghanistan. From January to March 2021, relief agencies reported nearly 440 incidents of impeded humanitarian access, representing an increase compared to the previous three-month period, when nearly 340 incidents were recorded. In the first quarter of 2021, violence and conflict resulted in the deaths of nine humanitarian personnel and injuries to 22 additional staff; relief workers also continue to face risk of abduction or detention. On June 8, armed individuals entered a Baghlan camp of the Halo Trust—a non- governmental organization (NGO) that conducts mine clearance activities—and opened fire, killing 10 people and injuring 16 people, international media report. The UN has called for an investigation into the attack, which underscores the risk faced by humanitarian personnel in Afghanistan, particularly national staff. In addition, demands for illegal fees and other bureaucratic measures often result in the temporary disruption or suspension of humanitarian programs. UN agencies and international and national NGOs, including U.S. Government (USG) partners, remain committed to continue providing assistance in Afghanistan, and continue to call for parties to the conflict to comply with international humanitarian law to protect civilians, relief personnel, and civilian infrastructure, and allow unimpeded humanitarian access.